Pvt hospitals apprehensive about govts move to regulate fees

New Delhi: Expressing apprehension over the Centre`s move to regulate fees at their hospitals, private healthcare chains today said such a step will not be "plausible" and even if it were to be initiated, the government must not do it unilaterally.

"We are of the view that whilst the fee structure for government-sponsored, aided hospitals or those under a PPP mode can be governed by the government, it is not plausible to govern the fee structure where the payer source happens to be individuals who are willing to pay for a specialised or niche service offering," Max Healthcare CEO and Managing Director Pervez Ahmed told PTI in an e-mailed response.

Last week, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had stated in Parliament that the Centre plans to implement a law that would fix fee rates for procedures, such as surgeries, carried out in private hospitals.

While he did not specify a deadline for bringing in such a law, Azad had also stated that once it comes into effect, private hospitals will not be allowed to charge advance payments for treating accident victims.

While appreciating the development, Batra Hospital & Medical Research Centre CEO Sanjeev Bagai said the move is in the right direction as it will take into consideration a broad range rate of parameters to fix the charges for the procedures, as today, the variation for the same procedures could be up to 100 per cent.

"However, the band rates should not be decided by the government unilaterally," he added.

"The government should form a core committee with representatives of all major corporate hospitals on board who should decide on the band rates in accordance to the rate list of 2011 of these hospitals," Bagai said.

While comments from Apollo Hospitals could not be obtained, a Fortis Healthcare spokesperson said: "We need to understand the details of this announcement before giving a comprehensive response."

The move by the government has, however, been welcomed by the country`s top medical institution, AIIMS.

"If government sets limits on what hospitals can charge, then it is very welcome… This will invite transparency and patients will not feel cheated by any hospital. It is like pricing a product. Once the customer knows the price of the product, it is left to him to decide to buy it or not," AIIMS Director Dr R C Deka said.

He said such a step would reduce tension for the patient, as prices for any particular procedure will be displayed in advance and once the patient knows the price, he can decide on the hospital where he wishes to undergo treatment.